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Islip’s South Face

Islip's South Face

In the aftermath of the giant February 2023 storm, which put snow at unusually low elevations throughout the San Gabriels, I urgently wanted to ski Islip's south face before it (more)

Highway 2 Update

Highway 2 buried in Snow

Not Fast is my guess as to when the 2 will open. Here's a look at the Angeles Crest Highway about a mile and a half east of Islip Saddle, just absolutely buried in snow. Dave (more)

Islip From Crystal Lake

Dave Braun ascending Mount Islip from Windy Gap

I assume you don't need me to tell you, but there is a lot of snow out there right now. Yesterday Dave Braun and I drove up to Crystal Lake for a low-expectations scouting (more)

Is the ARkstorm Coming?

Storm Clouds & Los Angeles River

Following this latest atmospheric river/bomb-cyclone storm cycle, and SoCal's record-setting rainfall totals, I have a new appreciation for what the Army Corps of Engineers (more)

The Invisible Car

Los Angeles at Night

The levers and wheels are the easy part. I learned that lesson when I was fifteen years old. It was summer of my Sophomore year, and I was taking a driver's ed class at my high (more)

Safety Strategies for Young Men

Trevor Benedict and Dave Braun Approach Mount Muir's East Buttress

Traditionally we implore young men to take fewer risks. Understandably so—accidents are the number one killer of men from their teens to their early thirties. I, however, (more)

Defying Mother Nature

Defying Mother Nature

Where human behavior is concerned, insight has value only if it leads to change. Any good AERIE class can tell you exactly how to avoid getting killed by an avalanche, but that (more)

A Little Snow

A Little Snow

Snow has been hard to come by this winter for many of us. Here's a ten-minute shot of snow on my balcony a few days ago in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I spent the holiday. I was (more)

The Elephant in the Brain

The Elephant in the Brain

In the face of danger, human cognition is time-consuming and expensive. When the tall grass of the African Savanna rustled, those who deliberated got eaten. Those who ran away (more)

Bomb The Hell Out of It

Avalanche, Mammoth Mountain, California

If predicting the behavior of avalanches is so challenging, how do ski patrol do it? How do they make a mountain safe? Perhaps we should take a look at that—and see if we (more)

Turn Off Your Beacon

The San Jacinto Wilderness

You can do this experiment at home, or wherever you happen to be at this moment, but for maximum effect do it in the mountains, on a day where you believe there is significant (more)

Revisiting ‘A Dozen More Turns’

Ski Tracks on Snow

It would not be entirely accurate to call the Beacon-Shovel-Probe paradigm a failure. Since its mainstreaming in North America, advocates can rightly point to a huge increase in (more)

Everything Under the Sun

Extraordinary Ice Atop San Jacinto Peak, California

I worry a lot about ice. For skiers, ice takes a game of skill and perverts it into a game of chance. Whether you are hiker, skier, or just casual visitor to Southern (more)

The Life of Snow

Snowpack assessment near June Mountain, California

When used for the purpose of declaring a complex midwinter snowpack "safe," snow pit assessment is a fool's game. Never bet your life on a pit result. That said, learning how (more)

Learning To Read The Mountain

The complex avalanche terrain on Pine Mountain's north face

It's time to play God. Please take a lake-sized bucket of water, dump it on your favorite mountain, and then watch carefully as all that water flows down the hill. Real or (more)

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About SierraDescents

When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

Pray for snow.